President William Ruto has assured parents whose children sat for the Grade Six examinations of a smooth transition when they join Junior Secondary later this month.
Speaking during his first joint media interview on Wednesday night, Ruto also said that the government shall relook funding models for universities.
He said that the funding boards shall be merged to streamline and maximise support for the higher education learners.
‘‘Our position is to create a merger between the TVET Funding Board, the University Funding Board, Higher Education Loans Board. We need a system that ensures our education is grounded on sound economics,’’ Ruto said.
Ruto also said that a conversation will be held to determine the number of students the government can fund in universities. ‘‘We are going to have a conversation with both public and private universities and from there, where we are possibly not going to finance, we have to be honest with ourselves.”
Ruto noted that parents who have been able to sponsor their children in academies in basic education turn to the university funding, edging out vulnerable students.
‘‘We have students in academies all through from standard one to form four, but when they go to university, we want to tell them we can pay for all of them,’’ the President stated.
He added: ‘‘We need to be honest with ourselves that let those who can afford, pay and let us think on how we can assist those who cannot afford rather than pretending that we are going to support all the children even when we are not in the position to.’’
But in what seemed as a deliberate move to calm anxious parents, President Ruto said that the looming transition to Junior Secondary Schools will be seamless.
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He said there will be enough classrooms in all public primary schools in readiness for the transition.
‘‘We have extra classrooms in all schools that will be used by the Junior Secondary pioneer cohorts and there is no need for parents transferring their children. We have the curriculum in place and are now addressing the teachers’ shortage.
He added: “The only thing that is going to be pending and which we will engage with our Members of Parliament is to build a laboratory for them within the next one year.”
Ruto urged schools which will face challenges to convert some of the existing classrooms into laboratories.
He also appealed to neighbouring schools to share their facilities.
‘‘It is possible for schools that share the same compound with the secondary schools for Grade Seven to carry out their experiments in the secondary schools,’’ Ruto added.
Ruto, however, admitted that the transition will not easy but said everything will be done to ensure the transition takes place.
‘‘I want to promise you it is doable. We have all hands on deck with everyone working seamlessly including the MPs,’’ he said.
President Ruto said that implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) was rushed before putting structures in place which has hampered a smooth.
He, however, said the Presidential Working Party (PWP) on education reforms will try to find a solution.
‘‘The transition to CBC is a big plus and there could have been some missteps in the process, maybe we could have taken an extra one or two years to ensure we get teachers and other stakeholders on board but now this is water under the bridge,’’ he said.
Ruto said the decision to hold JS in primary schools was informed by the recommendations from the views collected from different education stakeholders.
‘‘The stakeholders observed that children were still young and needed parental care. They also said this was to reduce the cost of education since if you were to take children in a boarding school far away it costs more,’’ he said.
The President further noted that all Grade Six learners will transit to Junior Secondary in their respective primary set-up with the government policy of 100 percent transition.
‘‘As a government, we took the decision to hire an extra 30, 000 teachers to ensure the transition is smooth. Next year, we are going to hire another 30,000 teachers with the availability of resources to make sure our education system is seamless,’’ Ruto said.
Ruto pointed out that the Permanent and Pensionable and intern teachers being hired is on the advice of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in order to address the teachers’ shortage.
‘‘We gave TSC the latitude to decide the number of teachers needed to help the Grade Seven transition, how many will assist in the continuing secondary education and those who will go to the primary. The expertise in the Commission is in a better place to tell us where the teachers will be posted,’’ Ruto said.
The Head of State committed that the government will ensure 110,000 more teachers are hired in the next five years.